NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 13 Mahatma Gandhi and the Nationalist Movement

Q. What was a three-way struggle in 1940?

Ans. In March 1940, the Muslim League passed a resolution demanding a measure of autonomy for the Muslim-majority areas of the subcontinent. The political landscape was now becoming complicated: it was no longer Indians versus the British; rather, it had become a three way struggle between the Congress, the Muslim League, and the British. At this time Britain had an all-party government, whose Labour members were sympathetic to Indian aspirations, but whose Conservative Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was a die hard imperialist who insisted that he had not been appointed the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire. In the spring of 1942, Churchill was persuaded to send one of his ministers, Sir Stafford Cripps, to India to try and forge a compromise with Gandhiji and the Congress. Talks broke down, however, after the Congress insisted that if it was to help the British defend India from the Axis powers, then the Viceroy had first to appoint an Indian as the Defence Member of his Executive Council.

Q. Why did the salt laws become an important issue of struggle?

Ans. The British did not allowed the Indians to manufacture the salt from the sea water. Gandhiji depicted this measure of the British as the worst form of humanity. Due to this reason on March 12, 1931, Gandhiji started his salt march from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi for breaking the colonial salt laws. The Salt March made Gandhiji an international leader. Imitating Gandhiji there were several salt marches all across the nation that break the colonial salt laws.

Q. Why are newspapers an important source for the study of the national movement?

Ans. Newspapers are an important source of information for studying the national movement due to several reasons:

  1. They gave the views of the nationalists about the policy of the British.
  2. They showed the actions of the British government against the national struggle of the common masses of India.
  3. They also gave information about the latest decisions of the Indian National Congress to counter the British government.

Q. How was non-cooperation a form of protest?

Ans. Gandhiji started the non-cooperation movement in 1920 and asked the people to renounce the association with the things involving the British like cloth, liquor, schools, colleges, etc.

  1. The Non-Cooperation movement was mixed with the Khilafat movement by Gandhiji for uniting the Hindus and Muslims and ensuring greater participation.
  2. Students refused to go to schools, lawyers gave up the practice, workers went on strike during the non-cooperation movement. Hill tribes violated the forest colonial laws.
  3. This movement was withdrawn after a group of protesters burned down a police station in Gorakhpur in February 1922. After this incident, Gandhiji called the Non-Cooperation movement.
  4. The Indian National movement transformed into a movement of peasants and common masses from the intellectual and elite sections.

Q. Why were the dialogues at the Round Table Conference inconclusive?

Ans. The dialogues at the Round Table Conferencewas inconclusive due to a plethora of reasons:

  1. There was a friction among the Indians especially between B.R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gnadhi.
  2. The question of Hindus and Muslims and their status in the politics of India remained  unresolved.
  3. Many Indian parties did not accepted the leadership of Gandhi at the second round table conference.
  4. The British took advantage of all these situations and did not accepted the demandsof the Indian National Congress.

Q. In what way did Mahatma Gandhi transform the nature of the national movement?

Ans. In his famous speech in BHU, Gandhiji said that the independence movement in India should be made a mass movement in which all the sections of the society widely participate. He supported the cause of peasants at several places.

  1. Gandhiji fought for the rights of the Indigo planters in Champaran, Bihar in 1917.
  2. Gandhiji addressed the issues of the cotton mill workers in Ahmedabad in 1918.
  3. In the Kheda district of Gujarat, Gandhiji demanded the remission of taxes of the peasants from the British authorities after the failure of the crops. Gandhiji also launched a number of mass movements like Non-Cooperation movement, Civil Disobedience movement and Quit India movement and made the freedom struggle a mass movement.

Q. What do private letters and autobiographies tell us about an individual? How are these sources different from official accounts?

Ans. The private letters of the Gandhiji and his companions provide a great deal of information about him. Gandhiji and his colleagues used to have important conversations through the medium of letters. There are several letters of Gandhiji conversing with Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel and other nationalist leaders. These letters gave the insights of the feelings and ideology of the nationalist leaders in true sense. It shows their vision about the nation and of the administrative affairs of the country.

The letters are an important source of information as the officials sources are on many occasions biased and gave information with the perspective of the British.

Q. How did Mahatma Gandhi seek to identify with the common people?

Ans. Mahatma Gandhi tried to identify himself with the ordinary people of India through the following ways:

  1. He started to follow a very simple lifestyle.
  2. He generally spoke the language of local people and further promoted the local languages.
  3. He opposed the caste system and attacked untouchability so people belonging from the group would join them in national movement without being discriminated by the so called higher class people. To do so, he himself lived with the harijans.
  4. He attached dignity to labour and physical work.
  5. He himself used charkha to produce cotton thread and wore "dhoti" made by the cotton and promoted Khadi production.

Q. How was Mahatma Gandhi perceived by the peasants?

Ans. Among the peasants, Mahatma Gandhi was very famous and perceived as their hero who can solve their problems.

  1. The peasants considered him as if he had been sent by the King to redress the grievances of the farmers, and that he had the power to overrule all the local officials.
  2. It was also claimed that Gandhiji’s power was superior to that of the English monarch, and that with his arrival, the colonial rulers would go away from the district.
  3. There were also rumours that the villagers, who had criticised him, have found their houses mysteriously falling apart or their crops failing.
  4. He was called as, “Gandhi baba, Gandhi Maharaj” or “Mahatma”, who had appeared to Peasants as a saviour, who would rescue them from high taxes and oppressive officials. It was hoped that Gandhi would restore dignity and autonomy to their lives.
  5. Gandhiji’s appeal among the peasants was enhanced by his ascetic lifesty.

Q. Why was the charkha chosen as a symbol of nationalism?

Ans. The charkha was selected as a symbol of nationalism due to various reasons which are as follows:

  1. Gandhiji considered the charkha as a symbol of a human society that would not glorify machines and technology and suitable for a nation like India.
  2. The spinning wheel or the charkha provided the poor with supplementary income and make them self-reliant economically.
  3. It leads to concentration of wealth, not in the hands of few, but in the hands of all.
  4. The charkha was considered as a machinery that was used for the service of the poorest in their own cottages.
  5. Under the above circumstances, Gandhiji spent a part of each day working on charkha and encouraged other nationalists to do likewise. In this way, he broke the boundaries that prevailed within the traditional caste system, between mental labour and manual labour.

Q. How did different sections of the Indian society react on the Non-Cooperation Movement ?


“Gandhi had mobilised a wider discontentment against the British rule in the Salt Satyagraha.” Explain.


  1. During the Great war of 1914-18, the British had instituted censorship of the press and permitted detention without trial. On the recommendation of a committee chaired by Sir Sydney Rowlatt these tough measures were continued. It response, Gandhiji called for countrywide campaign against the ‘‘Rowlatt act’’. The situation in the province grew more progressively more tense when in April 1919, a British Brigadier ordered his troops to open fire on a nationalist meeting. More than four hundred people were killed. It was the Rowlatt Satyagraha that made Gandhiji a truly national leader.
  2. Embolded by it success, Gandhiji called for a campaign of ‘‘non-cooperation’ with British rule. To further broaden the struggle Gandhiji joined hands with the khilafat, Movement in a hope that by coupling non-cooperation with Khilafat, India’s two major religious communities, Hindus and Muslims, could collectively bring an end to colenial rule.
  3. Students stopped going to schools and colleges run by government. Lawyers refused to attend the court. The working class went on strike in many towns and cities. 
  4. The countryside was seething with disconent too. Hill tribes in northern Andhra violated the forest laws. Farmers in Awadh did not pay taxes. Peasant in Kumaun refused to carry loads for colonial officials.
  5. These protest movements were sometimes carried out in defiance of the local nationalist leader. Peasants, workers and others interpreted and acted the call to noncooperate with colonial rules in ways best suited to their interests.


Mass mobilisation on a wide scale was undertaken during the Gandhian phase of the national movement. It was under the leadership of Gandhi that the Indian National Movement became a mass movement. The main contribution of Gandhi towards India and the Indian masses had been through the powerful movements which he had launched through the Congress. Even though the Congress organised a nationwide struggle, it remained a struggle of a minority against the British Raj. On 2nd of March, 1930, Gandhi wrote to Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India : “If you cannot see your way to deal with these evils and my letter makes no appeal to your heart, then on the twelfth day of this month, I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram I can take, to disregard the provisions of the salt laws.” The Viceroy expressed his regret at Gandhi’s decision to break the law. On 12th March 1930, Gandhi left the ashram with 78 selected followers for a 240- mile walk to the sea at Dandi, where they would defy the law by scraping up salt. On 5th April, after 25 days of daily marching, Gandhi reached the sea at Dandi. And followed him thousands of countrymen, including intellectuals, elites women as well  he poor. Gandhi recited a small prayer during the night at the shore washed by the Arabian Sea and